NCAA changes rulebook in response to Marcus Smart's shove of fan

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA made it an automatic ejection for basketball players to enter the fan area of an arena.

The NCAA finalized a memorandum that makes it an automatic Flagrant 2 foul and ejection if a basketball player leaves the playing court and interacts with fans in a derogatory way, reports ESPN's Andy Katz. The rule change covers a hole in the rulebook that was found following Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart's shoving of a Texas Tech fan earlier this month.

In that game, Smart fell behind the backstop of the opponent's basket but went up to the stands while reacting to a fan's remarks by shoving him. Smart was only assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul and remained in the game's final six seconds as the Cowboys fell to the Red Raiders.

The memorandum, which was send to NCAA schools this week, is to prevent players from interacting inappropriately with fans or otherwise.

The clear intent of Rule 10-1.3.h is to prevent players from leaving the playing court and becoming involved in verbal, physical or any other type of confrontation with fans, team followers mascots or band members.. The playing court is defined by Rule 1-2.1 as "the area on the  floor that lies within the geometrical lines formed by the inside edge of the boundary lines."

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Big 12 coordinator of officials Bob Shaw told ESPN there was no rule to penalize Smart during the game in such a situation.

Smart's incident was later reviewed by the Big 12 and he was suspended three games. He will be eligible to return on Saturday as Oklahoma State faces Texas Tech.

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